For all the injuries that mount over the course of an 82-game season, the most painful time period for an NHL player seems to be the day after the season is over – when all sorts of injuries are revealed by players who kept their bumps and bruises under wraps like state secrets.
Of those that came to light Monday, the worst belonged to center Ryan Getzlaf and defenseman Aaron Ward.
Getzlaf revealed that the initial ankle injury he suffered in a February game against the Kings was a partially torn ligament between his tibia and fibula.
“Just over time, I aggravated it again,” he said.
Getzlaf did not miss a moment of the Olympics, which began eight days later, and joined the Ducks for 10 more games in March.
The ankle decided that it had had enough on March 24, buckling in a game in Vancouver which proved to be Getzlaf’s last of the season. The 24-year-old earnestly tried to come back, and was close to returning, before the regular season was over.
“We had days where things were going well and I tried skating a couple times,” he said. “It wasn’t the right timing for it to happen and unfortunately it did keep me out the rest of the year.”
Getzlaf said he plans on being back to 100 percent “in a month or so,” and certainly expects to be healthy come training camp.
As for Ward, he will undergo knee surgery that he had been postponing since September.
“I’ve just been managing (the injury),” said Ward, noting that he had fluid drained from the knee every week. “Now that the season is over I can get it corrected so it won’t bother me again. It nags. It’s just to clean out my knee. It’s not major surgery.”
One of four unrestricted free agents (along with Saku Koivu, Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne), Ward was a steady if unspectacular contributor after joining the Ducks in a deadline-day trade with the Carolina Hurricanes.
The 37-year-old blocked 24 shots, took eight penalty minutes and had a plus-2 rating in 17 games for the Ducks. Ward is not a scorer, but chipped in with two assists.
Before heading back home to Raleigh, Ward did not rule out a return to Anaheim.
“It’s always a possibility,” he said. “You never close off any opportunities. … It was a simple style of play. It’s a style I played when I was in Boston. Same philosophy. Successful philosophy, proven to be. It’s a player’s style system. I think that was easy and fun to play.”